To help strengthen and transform the lives of young people, Dr. Erel Margalit established JVP Community in the year 2002. The non-profit organization, called Bakehila (“In the Community”) in Hebrew, is an instrument for strengthening impoverished population centers in the city of Jerusalem. Dr. Margalit, a leading Israeli venture capitalist, founded and manages Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP) and is dedicated to bolstering Israeli society.
The mission of JVP Community - Bakehila is to be a catalyst for social mobility in disadvantaged neighborhoods in Jerusalem. It works to empower elementary and junior high school students to:
- Acquire academic skills to close educational gaps
- Develop healthy social relationships and self confidence
- Prevent drop-outs
Employing a holistic model, Bakehila works with the child, parents, residents of the local community and municipal institutions to encourage broad-based social change.
Bakehila operates in a total of fifteen schools and ten afternoon Learning Centers reaching approximately 3,000 children annually. The program operates in five low-income Jerusalem neighborhoods. In the 2011, Bakehila is targeting Katamon, Gilo, Neve Yaakov, Talpiyot and Beit Safafa.
To affect broad social change JVP Community (Bakehila) implements formal and informal educational programs in communities. The programs work with children and youth, their parents, and relevant institutions in the community. The aim is to create partnerships between the residents, voluntary organizations and the government sector. Bakehila selected the school as the gateway to reach children. It constitutes the central axis of activity in a child´s day. The school was chosen since it is an institutional space that brings together most of the neighborhood’s residents.
The target population is youth from low-income families who have the ability to succeed but are not performing in school for one reason or another. Additional Target Population are: Institutional agencies working in the community and municipal bodies involved in aiding neighborhood residents; and "Year-in-Service Volunteers" (Shinshinim) and adult volunteers who are active in the program.
Bakehila organizes and directs five main programs:
Classroom Assistance: 08:00 - 13:30
Learning Centers: 13:30 - 17:00
Youth Group & Social Activities: 17:00 - 19:00
Mentoring Children: 17:00 - 19:00
Parental involvement: 20:00 - 21:30
Bakehila´s educators and year-in-service volunteers (in Hebrew called “Shinshinim”) serve as teaching aides, mentors, role models and youth leaders. All staff and volunteers receive extensive training and supervision throughout the academic year.
Neighborhood schools provide an ideal setting for the program, as they bring together residents of all sectors, maintain long-term relationships with the populations they serve, promote socio-economic mobility and are non-political.
- Improvement in the scholastic achievements of students in the neighborhoods with the goal of eliminating disparities.
- Wholistic work in the student’s natural environment: the family and formal and informal educational frameworks.
- Creation of conditions that strengthen self-esteem, the shouldering of responsibility, the development of a critical approach and involvement.
- Encouraging involvement and leadership of residents.
- Creation of conditions for partnership between government, voluntary organizations and residents.
- Strengthening public institutions that are active in the community (schools, community authorities, welfare offices, etc.).
- Gradual transfer of responsibility for joint projects to the relevant government agency.
Methods of implementation in the community:
- Involvement of parents in various aspects of educational activity in the community.
- Creation of parent groups.
- Creation and participation in task-oriented and “think tank” steering committees in the area of education.
- Involvement of government entities in any project that we are partners in or which we initiate.
- Creation of projects centered on the mapping of needs expressed by the residents or by government entities active in the neighborhood.
- Creation of partnerships between government entities and the third sector as a means of expanding available resources and achieving a broader ability to get things accomplished.